George Mason University Professor Donald J. Boudreaux has written an article worthy of everyone’s attention: “‘Externality’ Is No Good Excuse for Mandatory Vaccination.” Some people think the case for mandatory vaccination is irrefutably made by simply saying that the unvaccinated person presents a risk to people other than himself. No so, Boudreaux responds. Here’s a taste:
Shouting “externality!” is not the trump card that many economists (and non-economists) naïvely suppose it to be. In a world in which not every human being lives an isolated existence – that is, in our world – each of us incessantly acts in ways that affect strangers without thereby justifying government-imposed restrictions on the great majority of these actions. Therefore, justification of government obstruction of the ordinary affairs of life requires far more than an identification of the prospect of some interpersonal impact….
That the choice to remain unvaccinated against Covid creates some risks for strangers is indisputable. Yet this fact about this choice does not distinguish it from many other choices with similar consequences, nearly all of which choices, again, do not justify government intervention – a fact that holds true even if we confine our attention only to actions that put in greater jeopardy the physical health of others.